Brymbo Legends Interviews
I started playing cricket when my school friend asked me to join him at Olton CC at the age of 14. It was about 4 miles away from where I lived and I would cycle there twice a week to train. The coach was a man named Arthur Drury would pick me up on a Sunday morning for the match in his little VW campervan, smoking a pipe, with his four dogs in the back. You can only begin to imagine the smell!
My very first competitive game was against a team called Carlton CC who had a wicketkeeper called David Ripley, who eventually went on to play for Northamptonshire.
In my first season of competitive cricket I played two games for our representative league against Burley and Wharfedale. It’s something I was very proud of, with it being my first season.
My coach, Arthur, was good friends with Jim Love (ex-Yorkshire player) and he got me to a trials day at Yorkshire CC. they were looking for 6 players to join the academy. When I got there and saw the standard I felt way out of my depth.
At the end of that season I got fed up with cricket as I had started work and discovered alcohol and, unfortunately, enjoyed my Saturday nights more.
Best player ever played with and against:
With: (Best pro) David Lloyd (Brymbo CC & Glamorgan).
But the best local player - Ross Roberts (Brymbo CC).
Since Ross dropped down from the 1st team, I have played a lot of cricket with him. He has helped me personally improve my game, and although he likes to joke around a lot, he is very knowledgeable about the game.
Against: (Best pro) David Ripley (Northamptonshire).
But the best local player - Ian Pearson (Gwersyllt CC).
Although I’ve only played against him a few times, I would have to say Pearson for Gwersyllt is the best player I’ve played against. He got a century and around 80 against us. He would also take wickets for fun as well as being a handy in the field and very safe hands.
Ross Roberts is a very proactive captain. All the experience he gained playing at a higher level he relayed down to the second team. He was definitely a captain you could rely on with both bat and ball……on the odd occasion even as a gloveless wicket-keeper when we were short!
He had some brilliant banter with the opposition. A very respected player throughout the north wales league!
With: By far the best I have played with is Dan Parry (Brymbo CC). He has taken a lot of wickets with his late seam movement, getting top batsmen playing down the wrong line. Probably one of, if not, the most dedicated local cricketers that I know of. Always wanting to learn more about the game. He also has a very well disguised slower ball. He can also bowl spin and is an excellent fielder and catcher of the ball. He has at times been known to keep wicket as well, so all in all I’d say he’s not a bad cricketer.
Against: The standard I have played against in my career I would have to say Paul Cartwright of Northop CC is the quickest bowler I think I have faced. But would say he is more of a seam bowler.
With: A lot of you will probably not know this player. His name is Chris Goodwin. He played for Brymbo CC when we used to get 3 teams out on a Saturday. He opened the bowling with myself when I captained the 3rd team. He could swing the ball in any conditions. That team made it to division 2, so we would regularly come up against 1st and 2nd teams. He would have many batsmen looking back at their dismantled stumps wondering what had just happened.
Against: Sorry but none come to mind because, as you are aware by now, I do not bat long enough to judge opposition bowling. One person who I would like to mention is an ex-Brymbo player Steve Edwards. I faced him in training, and he would swing the ball a lot. Very much an in-swinging bowler and played for the thirds mainly when we were short as he didn’t want to commit every week, but with a bit of coaching he would have taken a lot of wickets.
With: I would have to say Michael Edge (Brymbo CC). A very under-estimated cricketer in my opinion. When I played with him in the second team, he had more catches dropped off his bowling than anyone else. An excellent leg spinner who could turn the ball a long way. A very good all-round cricketer who is missed at Brymbo.
Against: I will say before anyone else does that I don’t bat long enough to judge other bowlers! I have never faced any top spinners, so the only one I played against regularly was Daniel Surgery (Menai Bridge). Not the best, but a consistent spinner.
With: Ben Hilliard, Brymbo’s only overseas player, from Australia. Only played a couple of games with him, but he made the opposition earn their runs; and taking over 60 wickets in that season, he practically kept Brymbo in the premier league on his own.
Against: Paul Cartwright of Northop CC as mentioned previously.
With: After spending last season playing in the first team, I would, without a doubt, say that Mohammed Jayman is the best batsman I have played with. He makes batting look very easy. Even in a team that only had six first team players from the previous season, he scored freely and very rarely failed to get a decent total. The only thing that let him down was not converting his 50’s into 100’s, but was often left to bat with the tail.
He is also an excellent spin bowler, with very safe hands.
Against: David Fox (Connah’s Quay). I played against him four times (1x century, 2x big 50’s, then once in 20’s) very rarely played the ball in the air and always made batting look easy.
With: Greg King is on a different level to any other keeper I have played with or against. He is a natural athlete and probably the only keeper to stand up to Ben Roberts and be comfortable doing so. He earns wickets for bowlers, takes leg side balls like picking apples and stumping batsman. I personally haven’t seen a keeper with faster hands and feet. All this is apparently self-taught and also a big loss to Brymbo CC when he decided to hang up his gloves for good.
I would also like to mention Robbie Blackwell. He stood in as wicketkeeper for the 2nd team when we were short. Just from that one game I played with Rob, he stood up to the wicket for my bowling and taught me the lesson of bowling line and length. He made wicket-keeping look extremely easy.
Against: A lot of good ones, but none who stood out.
The Big Hitter:
Ross Roberts & David Blackwell (Brymbo CC)
I would think that Ross only just pips Dave from experience. I am only picking Ross as I have seen him literally destroy bowling attacks. He can change a game on his own in just a few overs. Just the sight of Ross walking to the wicket scares some opposition teams.
I remember being umpire for a 2nd team game and the opposition captain said, when our number 6 walked to the crease, “When is Ross Roberts batting?” I replied, “He’s in next”. To which he responded with a very complimentary “You must have a bloody good top 6 then” and went on to tell his players that he would bowl his last 2½ overs before Ross came in!
Joss Roberts (Brymbo CC) as he never gets flustered. No matter what the match situation, most of the time you can rely on Joss to stay at the crease and accumulate an innings. Even if he doesn’t get the big score, you can guarantee he will stay around so the big hitters can relax and play their shots. Joss is the type of batsman the 1st team missed last season.
Mohammad Jayman (Brymbo CC). Hard, soft, high, low, close quarters or out in the deep, I personally have not seen him drop a catch yet. Also makes it look very easy - unlike me!
Jack Watkins (Brymbo & Gwersyllt). Effortless and 9 times out of 10 into the keeper’s gloves, even when he throws off balance.
Now this is a hard one. I think from the first team last season, Dan Parry, James Claybrook and Gareth Pugh were all very good, but I’m going to go with a player who left the club a while ago now. His name is Phil Wilkinson. He was brilliant in the covers and on the boundary. Nothing got past him. I remember one instance when the opposition batsman pulled a ball that was a 6 all the way until Phil ran around the boundary and stuck out his right hand and caught it.
Best No 11:
Ali Khalid (Brymbo CC) …yes Ali you get a mention!
Ali would gladly play for the first team if they were short, even though it meant he batted at 11 and very rarely bowled. He is a very good “clubman”. Ali could easily have refused to play for the first team and played for the 2nd team, as he would bat in the top 3 and also have a bowl. It’s a shame there’s not many Ali’s around cricket clubs nowadays.
There is only one joker. No matter what the situation. Before, during and after a game he has always got either a joke or funny story to tell and you don’t have to use your imagination to figure out who it is I am referring to…Yes Ross Roberts, it’s you!
One player springs to mind and that is Craig Morse from Gresford. Whenever we played against him, he would always try and get under your skin and disrupt you whether you were batting, bowling or fielding. Always played hard on the field but a completely different lad off it. The first to shake your hand win, lose or draw.
As a bowler, when I first came to Brymbo I used to watch and learn from different players. The first one I actually admired was Keith Roberts (Brymbo CC). He was coming to the end of his career, but he used to open the bowling with another tall bowler named Richie Roberts. It was very rare either of them went for many runs, but Keith used to bowl a brilliant line and length. Being from Yorkshire and apparently known for being tight, I guess that’s what inspired me. Keith would also be around on training night often giving out advice.
Proudest Cricketing Achievement:
One definitely stands out and that is when Brymbo traveled to Northop in what turned out to be a game that we had to win to stay in the premier division. The memory isn’t that good, but I think it was my first team debut. We set a standard score and I opened the bowling with Ben Hilliard, earning my one and only wicket that day. But, more importantly, Ben got 4 and Matthew Turner came on and bowled their last man and we won the game! Pandemonium on the pitch!
Another one, again this may or may not have been my first team debut, against Connah’s Quay. I took 4 wickets for 39 runs. One of them wickets was Mr. Burger. He hammered me back over my head for 6, but the very next ball I bowled him. Jamie Griffiths was captain that day and said “Smithy, you just bowled Burger”. I said, “Who the bloody hell is Burger?” as I honestly hadn’t heard of him until that day.
Best Innings (most memorable):
Not being a batsman there aren’t too many, but one that stands out for me was playing Pontblyddyn away, when I was 3rd team captain. We had lost 5 or 6 wickets and Elliot Hughes joined me in the middle. I can’t remember how many I scored but I held my end up and Elliott got approximately 40 runs. Elliott was only young at that time and he realised in that game that he could hit a ball far. We went on to win that game.
Another was my one and only 50 which was against Gwersyllt. I won’t bore you with the detail, but it helped us win. Also, a trim Jamie Smith took 4 for 31 in that game!
Favorite Bowling Spell:
It has to be my 8 for 20 against Conwy at home. Another was 5 for 6 against Gresford.
53 vs Gwersyllt at home, hitting a 6 over extra cover onto main road to get my 50.
Stand Out Memories:
Playing with my two sons Jamie and Adam.
Hitting the winning runs in a 30+ partnership with Adam against Northop.
Being 80 for 8 against Abergele and Jamie going in at number 10, hitting his first two balls for 4. We ended up 130 all out and the match was tied with Abergele needing 3 to win and Jamie taking 2 for 2 in the last over.
Ross Roberts 150 not out and hitting one of the balls one handed onto the bowling green at Brymbo.
David Blackwell approximately 180 playing for the 3rd team.
A funny one to end on is Michael Blackwell going for a catch next to the scoreboard at Brymbo and demolished the fencing and didn’t take the catch. Sorry Mike … couldn’t leave that one out.
Since I started playing for Brymbo in 1999 I have enjoyed all 20 seasons. I have played with some characters, some excellent players, and some…well let’s just say they should take up another sport. I would like to think I’ve gained a lot of friends from playing for this fantastic club. I know I’m not everybody’s cup of tea, being from the other side of the Pennines, but being a Yorkshireman has made me the scapegoat for the jokes in the dressing room, which I will miss greatly now I have hung my boots up.
I would much like to thank each and every person for making me feel welcome at Brymbo CC.
The only regret I have, is stopping playing when I was 17 and not starting again until I was 33. Which, depending on how you look at it, are either the best or worse years to have missed.
Tanvee Kasaragod Pallath. I have helped out with indoor nets training on a Monday and Tanvee looks a very good prospect for now and the future.
Three most important qualities that make a cricketer stand out:
1. Never think you are the finished article. You are still learning until the day you stop playing.
2. Do not be too proud to ask advice from anybody. It shows you’re willing to learn and better yourself.
3. Play every game to win and be gracious in defeat.
PS: I would like to mention that when I was 3rd team captain, we were short and Adrian Hughes offered to play. I brought him on to have a bowl as a goodwill gesture for helping out. He went on to take five wickets for 1 run away to Bala. The week after we had a full team and, therefore, Adrian was not required. He still lets me know to this day that he’s probably the only player to take five wickets and get dropped!! Stories like this are what local cricket is all about!